Research & Development (R&D) Graduate Jobs

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Research & Development (R&D) Graduate Jobs overview

Research development falls under the science industry umbrella and encompasses a range of basic and applied research activities, aimed at identifying solutions to problems or creating new products, processes, services or knowledge. Research development, therefore, brings innovation to organisations to improve their market position.

Australia’s research and development industry is internationally respected and performs well compared to highly developed countries around the world. As a country, we spend approximately 2% of GDP on the sector, which employs eight people for every 1,000 workers.

Graduate jobs can be found in a range of industries, including healthcare, education, defence, biotechnology, chemicals, construction, business, government, media, pharmaceuticals, software, transportation, telecommunications and not-for-profit. Higher education employs over 62% of workers in the research development sector, while private business employs 25%.

What to expect

To work in the research development field, graduates will need a degree in a discipline related to the area of research they want to work in, such as engineering, science or technology, as well as good academic results. For some positions, companies may require postgraduate qualifications such as a Master’s or PhD.

The responsibilities assigned to graduates will vary depending on the field of research they work in, however most graduates will begin working within a project team, receiving training from senior researchers.

Graduates working in research development can earn big paychecks, with average starting salaries of around $71,000 per annum.

The top three regions in Australia employing research development graduates are NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

Types of jobs

Graduates working in research and development can follow a number of career paths to work in a variety of different jobs including:

  • Research associate
  • Research fellow
  • Research and development manager
  • Research and development engineer
  • Research and development director
  • Market research manager


The competition for grants, scholarships and jobs is intense due to a lack of funding, which leads to limited positions and heavier workloads. It is difficult for graduate or junior researchers to get grants without the presence of senior researchers on the project team.

Job certainty is a major concern in the research development industry, with many companies relying on short-term contracts to employ workers. As a result, research development positions generally only enjoy three to four years of job stability.


Graduate Stories

Teach for Australia Graduate Profile Image- Denis
Teach for Australia
Denis studied Bachelor of Arts (Honours), 2001; Doctor of Philosophy, 2006; Postgraduate Diploma of Policy and Applied Social Research, 2015; Master of Teaching (Secondary) (Professional Practice), ongoing.
AECOM Graduate Profile Image- Alice
Alice studied Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) (Honours) and Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) at the University of Queensland, 2017.
WSP Graduate Profile Image- Kate
WSP Australia
Kate studied Bachelor of Business (Economics) and Bachelor of Engineering (Mechatronics) (Honours) at the Queensland University of Technology

A day in the life of…

BHP Graduate Profile Image- Luke

I work at BHP’s Olympic Dam mine near Roxby Downs, South Australia. We’re a 90 minute flight or 6 hour drive north of Adelaide and while we may be considered to be a bit out of the way we are lucky to live in one of the most beautiful parts of the country.

BHP Graduate Profile Image- Mansi

I have been working at the Olympic Dam mine for the past year and I have to say, it has been an amazing experience so far! Olympic Dam is located in South Australia and I live in a town about 20km away from the site. Our site is quite unique because we go through the entire process from mining the ore to selling the final products all at the same site – how cool is that!? We produce copper, uranium and even silver and gold! 

BHP Graduate Profile Image- Adrian
A day in the life of…

Graduate Mining Engineer at BHP

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